Last updated:

Bureau of Land Management
For Immediate Release: Tuesday, February 21, 2006

PLC Letter to Ranchers (28KB PDF)
BLM Director Kathleen Clarke Letter (23KB PDF)
Questions and Answers Regarding Sales of Older Wild Horses to Public Lands Ranchers (28KB PDF)
Tom Gorey
(202) 452-5137

Bureau of Land Management and Public Lands Council
Urge Public Lands Ranchers to Buy Wild Horses

The Bureau of Land Management and the rancher-based Public Lands Council (PLC) are urging public lands ranchers to consider buying older wild horses that must be sold under a recently passed law. The appeal, made in separate letters signed by BLM Director Kathleen Clarke and PLC President Mike Byrne, is going out to more than 15,000 livestock operators across the West who hold BLM-issued grazing permits or leases. The PLC represents the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the American Sheep Industry Association, and the Association of National Grasslands on public land issues affecting ranchers.

In his letter to public lands ranchers, PLC President Byrne writes: “We recognize and appreciate that many of you already provide support to wild horses and burros through water use and grazing on private lands intermingled with the public lands. We are asking you to consider continuing to help by purchasing some of the older horses.”

In an accompanying letter, BLM Director Clarke, who notes that the BLM has some 7,000 sale-eligible horses in its pasture holding facilities, calls the PLC’s effort “most gracious and welcome.” Pointing out to ranchers that the BLM will deliver loads of 20 or more horses to any destination, Clarke writes, “I am committed to wise and responsible use of BLM’s fiscal resources. The cost of maintaining horses in holding consumes more than half of our agency’s wild horse program budget. Reducing holding costs will enable the BLM to commit greater resources to the accomplishment of rangeland health and wild horse herd management goals.”

The BLM-PLC appeal comes as the BLM implements a law enacted by Congress in December 2004 that mandates the sale of certain wild horses and burros – specifically, those more than 10 years old or those that have been passed over for adoption at least three times. In implementing this law, the Bureau has been reaching out to groups and individuals that are interested in buying these animals for long-term care. As of January 2006, the BLM has sold more than 1,500 wild horses and burros of the 8,400 that were immediately affected by the sale-authority law.

Public lands ranchers and all others who are interested in buying wild horses should call the BLM at 1-800-710-7597, send an e-mail to, or talk to a local BLM manager.

The BLM manages wild horses and burros as part of its overall mission to manage the public lands for multiple uses. Under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, the BLM manages, protects, and controls wild horses and burros; this responsibility includes removing excess numbers of animals from the public rangelands to ensure that herd populations are consistent with the land’s capacity to support them. According to the BLM’s latest figures, there are about 32,000 wild horses and burros roaming BLM-managed lands in 10 Western states, a population that exceeds by some 4,000 the number that can exist in balance with other public land resources and uses.

For further information about the BLM’s wild horse and burro sales program, see For information about the BLM’s wild horse and burro adoption program, which is separate from the sales program, see

The BLM, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior, manages more land—261 million surface acres—than any other Federal agency. Most of this public land is located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The Bureau, with a budget of about $1.8 billion, also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on the public lands.